From the Buddhist point of view, is engaging in a gay relationship or gay sexual activity a Breaking of the Precepts? … ((Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Love & Relationship Q & A)
Question: One more question; this is a popular topic. Just adding onto the gay issue – from the Buddhist point of view, is engaging in a gay relationship or gay sexual activity – a breaking of the precepts?
Rinpoche: NO, that‟s easy. (Laughter). And this is; I need, I need to build my answer for this one otherwise a partial answer might miss, make you, mislead you.
Every religion has an enemy; looks like. Like Christians and Muslims, they have like Satan and so on and so forth – right, every religion. And Buddhism also has one – that, that devil of Buddhism – and what is that? It‟s called DISTRACTION.
Constant distraction – that is the Satan of Buddhism, so this. So understandably the main quintessence of the Buddhist practices – obviously, MINDFULNESS; this is where mindfulness is taught in the Theravada tradition, in the Mahayana tradition, in the Vajrayana tradition. Mindfulness is the thing, okay.
So what I want to say is this. Eh, that, that‟s one part; I want you to keep that in your head. – okay. Distraction is the main problem, okay. Now in connection to that, in Buddhism morality is secondary, wisdom is the primary. Shantideva said (Tibetan phrase) – a morality without the wisdom is a pain in the neck. It is, it actually makes you hypocritical, it makes you judgmental; it makes you puritanical, so on and so forth.
This is true, you know. When I was growing up, my tutors – they used to really, you know like “Watch out for this, you know like Western girls. They‟re immoral, they‟re, you know, they‟re like blah, blah, all of this; you know like American girls, you know English girls, they‟re immoral. American girls are so immoral, they wear short skirts, all these blah, blah, you understand.”
They used to tell me this. Much years, years later when I went to America, for my surprise, I found out and I realize Americans are much more moralistic. American society, American value is so much into more moral, moralistic; this is why, if you can recall, the whole nation debated where, where Clinton‟s cigar went in – remember? Who cares? (Laughter)
As long as he‟s doing his job, good as a President, who cares what he, did with his cigar. But Americans care so much about morality; so this is the thing.
Actually in Buddhism, wisdom is much more important. Without the wisdom, everything makes you proud, makes you hypocritical – basically it‟s pain. You got that. I want to keep that in your head to answer this question.
So, in Buddhism, generally they; these are general, you know, very, very general sort of rule; such as like, eh, you should not kill, you should be generous, you should not steal, so on and so forth – so-called non-virtuous action and virtuous action. You must have heard this before: ten non-virtuous actions and ten virtuous actions and so on and so forth.
But how do you define what is virtuous and what is not? If an act, if an act brings you closer to the truth, it‟s a virtuous action in Buddhism – okay. If an act; okay, so if an act of whatever, for instance, if in order to save like these two; let‟s say these two are being chased by a, you know, murderer. In order to save these two; the murderer asks me – have you seen these two? I say no; that‟s a blatant lie. There‟s an act “lying” but I‟m saving them. Such kind of act; see outwardly it‟s a non-virtuous but actually it‟s bringing you closer to the truth, through the compassion, love and all that.
So therefore, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, action that brings you closer to the truth is virtuous. Action that does not bring closer, that brings you further from the truth, even though it may be seemingly virtuous such as going to Bodhgaya and do hundred thousand prostrations; and making sure anybody looking at you so that you become famous, whether anybody is taking photographs of you, you know, to cherish all of that. This brings you further from the truth.
That is not virtuous. So therefore there are categories – such as non-virtuous and virtuous. In the non-virtuous there is something called, you know, like sexual activities are generally considered non-virtuous. But it‟s never specified without what orientation; even on the Mahayana level. I am even talking about the Tantra; that‟s, that‟s even more beyond our normal thinking; but even on the Mahayana level.
So it doesn‟t matter what kind of orientation you belong to. As long as you have this kind of sexual activity that takes you away from the truth – yes, it is non-virtuous action. But that could be anything; it could be shopping too. It could be, I don‟t know, anything that takes you. So, bottom line – my answer this is; my answer to you is that, eh, what you call it; Buddhist sutras and shastras would not say, eh, heterosexual is lesser non-virtuous than, you know, homosexual, understand. That, there is no this, you know what you call it, eh, discrimination like that.
Having said that though – Buddhism is influenced by culture a lot; a little bit unfortunate but unavoidable. So when Buddhism travelled to Tibet, Japan, China, of course India, that‟s where it originated – the cultural value may have an influence, right. So this is why even in Singapore, I‟m sure many of the Mahayana Buddhists; I don‟t know whether any are here today; when Tibetan Buddhism come here with these hideous thangkas, you know, like thangkas with the father and mother consort embracing – basically PORNOGRAPHIC, you understand. (Laughter)
So, so the Mahayana people go bananas – oh, what is this? What is, THIS is Buddhism? Can‟t be; this is some, you know, Hindu, I don‟t know, some cult stuff. So culturally, you know, I cannot wipe out that problem. That is so much into the culture. So, of course, the tantric method of this practice of consort and the deities with the consort is not; eh, it has amazing wisdom, amazing, amazing wisdom.
Eh, if you want to make a fire, what do you need? – Wood. If you want to make, if you want to bring wisdom, what do you need? – Emotion. That is the beauty. And if you have water inside your ear, what do you do? The simple and most economic way is put more water, and it comes out. Likewise if you want to get rid of emotions, what do you? – The best and the simplest way – practice emotion, so on and so forth. But those are, eh, X-rated; the best, exclusive, only exclusive, only for people who can chew it basically, who can digest it.
Yes, we have problems with mm, eh, more orthodox, you know, thinking, of course but you know, like, it‟s quite interesting actually, it‟s really interesting. When you go to places like Sri Lanka, they have like Avalokiteshvara, they have like Manjushri also, but they are treated as, you know, like, eh, clerk; you know, like go for the boys. You know like – oh, yeah, they‟re Buddha‟s students, you know, those lay people. They happen to be one of those nice boys, but they didn‟t have the guts to renounce the world, so they still wear jewels, they‟re still lay people basically – but, so that level.
But now we come to Mahayana, Mahayana places like China, Japan; of course Avalokiteshvara, even the Taoist shrine, you find her, you know like great bodhisattvas; accepted even though they are not a monk, accepted as an object of refuge – right. Even in the Mahayana monastery the monks shave head, all of that – they prostrate to Kuan Yin, who is a woman, with all the jewels and all of that. Mahayana – so the wisdom is much more different. But in the Vajrayana, also it‟s much more different than that level; that, that depends on the culture and how much you can; you know different culture, acceptance and stuff like that. Okay one more question and then I think we can end. Two more questions, is it?
Attendant: If there is any more question, can the person go to the microphone? I‟ll conclude with the last question, a whole list of it.
Rinpoche: Do you want to go there?
Question: Rinpoche, how do we personally respect this high policy during the process of sexual activity when we tend to be distracted from the police of various when we come to the most exciting part? (Laughter)
Rinpoche: Well, this is actually quite, you know for someone who is a student of Vajrayana, myself, it is a very valuable question. But I don‟t know the audience here so much, I mean; therefore I cannot give you the complete answer. But it‟s a very valuable question. You know, I appreciate this question very much.
Please ask again in, in the future, but probably in a different sort of surrounding. But since you ask, I will just briefly eh, answer you because, within the Mahayana context, okay.
Attendant: We have a string of questions after you said that ….
Rinpoche: Wait, wait; so what I would say, eh – basically mindfulness teaching, especially in the method of vipassana and categorize into four categories, you know body, feeling, mind, and the dharma – right. We have the four categories; you know mindfulness of body, mindfulness of feeling, mindfulness of mind, mindfulness of the references, dharma.
So during the intimacy, you can actually, if you are experienced, you can actually use first two. And if you are practicing the Mahayana, Mahayana practice, I don‟t see any wrong by thinking that this is all, you know impermanence. This bliss, this seemingly temporary bliss that I am experiencing is an illusion. But this seemingly blissful experience; may all sentient beings also have this kind of blissful – you know, like that.
So Mahayana, you can, you can trigger this kind of activities with this kind of thought. You know I cannot say it will become virtuous, but I can also say that since we are such a deluded being and since we are stuck as a samsaric being, and yet we are trying so hard to follow the Buddha‟s teachings, and if you are so sincere to incorporate everything that you do as a path of the dharma – there‟s, I can, I don‟t see any reason why not incorporate mindfulness even in this kind of activity. Okay.
On the Attitude/Action of a Bodhisattva towards the partner…(Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Love and Relationships Q&A)
Question: How would a bodhisattva or one gone beyond react or not react to a partner who may be forgetting emptiness, is suffering from expectations of you?
Rinpoche: How would the bodhisattvas what?
Question: How would a bodhisattva react to a partner who is forgetting emptiness and expecting a lot of the bodhisattva?
Rinpoche: Oh, well; if this bodhisattva knows emptiness, then he or she must have compassion. So someone who is compassionate will look at the partner with compassion like a mother who has extra love for sick person, eh, sick child. The bodhisattva will have more love and compassion to the partner who doesn‟t understand emptiness. That‟s easy to answer. That‟s very Buddhist…okay.
Insights into How Partners could help each other in the Spiritual path… (Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Love and Relationships Q&A
Question: Thank you. Rinpoche, share some insights on how people could use each other as merits for each other’s spiritual quest.
Rinpoche: That, that’s possible. That’s possible. You just; you know, I was telling earlier beginning to give freedom to each other – that is always the key. And especially if both partners have a, you know, same direction such as if both believe in the same spiritual path. Then they can exchange their notes. They can volunteer to be the object of patience. You know, the Sunday, maybe you take over; you know, Monday, the partner – you know like that and remind her. Oh, that’s very possible. You are talking about the Mahayana level, right? – Yeah, very possible.
Question: Thank you. I just like how to – the suggestions?
Rinpoche: As I was saying, really, I wasn’t really being amusing here to actually; eh, I suggested to a few people to take turns, like this week the husband is not allowed to lose patience; next week, you know, like that, eh, and contemplation. Eh, and you know it’s like this; so co-spiritual path requires, let’s say mindfulness; spiritual path like mindfulness. It’s easy to be mindful when you are sitting on a cushion inside a shrine room. It is – that’s good; but you have more bonuses if you can be mindful when you
are losing your temper or emotion. So that you can exercise with your partner; you can also pledge together that’s what you too will do. And it really works…okay.
The LAST QUESTION and the CONCLUSION ….
Question: The greatest love is to love oneself, right? If I love myself enough, then I don’t need any love from others, right? How to gain my internal strength to love myself in order to love others?
Rinpoche: I see. This is a little bit tricky question, eh, because generally we do love ourselves, eh, but I have a feeling in this case, the term is not really love. I think it‟s more like respect.
Eh, of course, when we say love someone, we actually mean that I love myself, I want you to also love me (laughter). It‟s kind of; we‟re looking for double happiness (laughter). But eh, gaining the respect for oneself, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, we must have the confidence of having the buddha nature. I think that is probably the best.
Okay, I think; I know there are many questions but time is running out. We have, I am sure there are a lot more exciting things to do today for all of you. And eh, I‟m happy that we have this encounter and this discussion. I don‟t, recalling what we have done the past two hours, I don‟t think we have done anything meaningful but it was eh, good that we sort of stuck together. Anyway, mm, try to reflect our emotional life a little bit.
I don‟t know; so therefore I don‟t know whether there is any merit in what we have done the past two hours. But IN CASE there is, then let us dedicate this merit to all those who are looking for love or those who are longing for love, those who are already in love, those who are struggling with a relationship, those who are struggling not having a relationship, those who are, eh, what you call it, eh, longing for companionship, those who are lonely, those who are overly not lonely, all of those – may they all see the fact and the truth of our existence.
And if you were there last night, as I said, eh, the relative truth of, I mean the truth of this cyclic, samsaric existence is, at the end of the day – eventually samsaric life cannot be fixed. You have to accept that. You have to accept that we all have terminal disease. We just have to accept – sooner or later, everything is going to fall apart. That is a good beginning. Thank you. (Huge applause)
Transcribed from YouTube video: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Love & Relationships – Q&A section, 8 April 2012, Singapore.
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